Significance Means Preference

Beyond Relevance to Total Significance for Customers

Whatever your content or channel you use to attract and engage prospects, it’s their perception of the relevance and significance of it that determines engagement.

The topic of significance is neglected in marketing. If your content and brand are not significant enough, you won’t be able to compete online. Competition is a problem.

No gimmick will work unless the essence of your message and brand are very relevant — Significance.

Beyond Relevance to Significance

In the last blog post, we discussed how important it is to be the most relevant provider to your targeted audience.

As an example, B2B buyers don’t choose an SEO Company because it’s the best. They do so because it’s the most significant to them — based on their pain points, experiences and understanding. They may choose an inferior service because it appears more significant to what they need. And emotions rule.

Significance is the most important and underrated marketing concept. Significance is the key to great branding because it evaporates competition and causes customers to obsess with your offer/brand.

Customers buy from us because they prefer our product/service.  But we have to earn and establish that pre-eminence with them.

Building high Google rankings on the exact keyword phrases they type in, to crafting epic blogs filled with relevant, helpful, insightful content they’re interested in, to a personalized value proposition that seems as though it was designed specifically for them, allows us to create this significance.

What Drives Intent to Buy Your Service/Product?

Customers won’t purchase from you until you’ve proven you are the most significant brand/company to them.  Your current customers connected with you for that basic fact. 

A marketing audit would reveal what that special thing is.

It’s not easy at first to recognize that significance as the key goal in marketing.  Certainly, marketing training has totally failed on this basic tenet of buyer demand. And it could be the fault of our language that the word significance doesn’t hit with enough emotional impact. But this pre-eminence in the marketplace to our customers is the holy grail.

Discover What Makes your Company/Product so Significant

Customers prefer brand/product/service they believe is most important to them via marketing materials.

In a recent Twitter post, someone said “you can’t market a product that sucks.”  First response is that it’s true. Buy you can make a product look significant to your audience.  So, in fact, when you discover what is significant to that audience, you actually can market that product.

What we can say about a product/service that sucks is it’s actually one with a small/specific audience. It might be an audience that’s harder to reach, but the potential is still there.

Could be it just hasn’t reached its niche audience.

Of course, if you practice generalized marketing or copy a top competitor, you’re actually adopting material that makes yours less significant to your own audience. Either way, we need to improve our marketing strategy and build the assets that make us more significant to our audience.

Even the worst product can still sell incredibly well:

The Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League have not won a championship for 54 years. Many of those years, they were terrible, yet every game was sold out, TV receipts to the max, and their fans spread all over North American cities to fill the stadiums of their opponents too.  The suffering of their fans over 5 decades has been intense.  Their management continuously brought the worst product to the market, and yet the fans kept buying tickets and kept believing. The Leafs ticket prices are the highest in the NHL ($300 on average).  They demonstrate brand pre-eminence in a sport yet having no championships in 54 years. Other teams such as The Tampa Bay Rays of the MLB have won a championship, yet suffer from low ticket sales. The Leafs have significance, the Rays do not.

The lesson? Don’t burn yourself out trying to mimic market leaders, but instead put more time and money into building value and becoming emotionally significant to your target market. Significance sells more. From good storytelling to good content that gets specific points across, you can build that significance.

Best Offering Yet Most Insignificant?

If you’re not significant, then your competitors will be.

Have you perfected your UVP, offered the best product or service and then mysteriously, customers still pick your competitors and support them online? Are you pushing yourself into an early grave trying to make your product the absolute best when apparently, it doesn’t even matter?

That’s when you recognize the power of significance. Some brands own everything.  Forget about product development and start working on significance development. Read the post on storytelling, and you’ll appreciate how emotional preference factors in.

In previous posts, I added concepts you may have never heard of. One of them which I created in my most recent book, is the personalized, significant unique value proposition.

Yes, it’s real. That’s because a basic “unique value proposition” isn’t competitive enough. It doesn’t establish preference. It just says “we’re the same as a dozen other companies.”

We live in an era of intense global competition, and your solution isn’t really all that unique.  And preference demands more than being unique.

The big challenge isn’t to present the best value or even to serve customers. It’s to discover customer’s hidden, underlying preferences and then become their number one, most significant provider.

When you achieve significance, they’ll never forget you.

When you can’t make the sale, it’s because you haven’t pushed the message within your marketing content — the personal criteria they respect and need.

As an example, I received a new client lead where the prospect’s background and industry matched my profile well.

Commonality, shared interests, and needed Advanced SEO , traffic building and content creation skills raised my significance to them. But that doesn’t make the sale, because prospects have very particular wants.  Often, they don’t really want an expert because they assume they won’t work full time for them or provide all the work on the cheap.

This is why my brand only appeals to a certain group of business owners who are hungry to learn how to win and bring together the best marketing team to build success. And these smart, confident business people don’t make decisions based on specifics or gimmicks.  They look at the big picture of mastery and performance.

A lot of it comes from being someone they’d like to work with, is easy to work with, and who contributes even more to the team effort. And it comes from mastery of specific key tasks.

Clients don’t always know that they want, which is why they take our cues as to what’s important. We have to the power to generate their image of significance.  So success is in our hands.

Realtors: It’s not about Real Estate

Consider real estate agents. There are 10 times the number of agents as houses for sale, and they face lower margins on commissions and huge marketing costs.

Some of them are using Facebook/Instagram to connect with prospects and they’ve moved completely to social media advertising to generate leads. Many female agents use provocative sexy selfies, photos of exotic locations, activities and party events to showcase themselves as an example of success. Sometimes it just looks like an example of excess.

For some who are physically attractive, it can work. Because it makes them more significant (to male clients). Sometimes the photos are racy, and suggest the agent’s friendship/acquaintance is the item being bought and sold. If the client’s real preference is on appearance, the agent can use repeated images of themselves, persistently, to create significance.

This one gambit can outperform everything else a real estate agent could do to generate real estate clients and sales. Significance relies entirely on the mind of the homeowner/buyer and their preferences, right or wrong.

So focusing on the value proposition and features of hundreds of houses is not effective. Focusing on specific, real engagement, buying/selling triggers is what works.

You Really are the Same as All the Other Competitors

All your competitors are likely relevant to customers too, so basic relevance is not enough to win sales. And in their eyes, no one’s offering is unique, memorable, or likeable. You need to disassociate from all the others.

LG, Apple, Google Pixel, Samsung smartphone’s all look the same. Why did you choose yours? Even though my last LG phone malfunctioned, I still bought another big screen LG Phone (and Life’s Good makes appliances). I have preferences (screen size, camera quality), but which were most influential of the purchase, I’m not so sure of.

The final mix of buying factors is emotional — at point of decision. (This highlights the opportunity for marketers and salespeople to influence the customers preferences in real time).

One of a Kind Item for Sale Isn’t Good Enough

Old school sales is to simply put your product or service up for sale — reach is everything.

Today it has to be presented as custom-designed specifically for them — so personalized that they’re awed by how something could be so perfectly suited to them. You captivate them with this made-in-heaven match up, that seems almost immortal. Some might call that love. It’s good when customers love your product/service/brand. You’ve blown away the competition in the prospect’s mind.

This significance factor makes them believe there is no other product/service they would rather have. Their preference is sealed. Significance creates preference.

And here’s an insight: Competitor’s relevance to customers will disappear if you master significance. It’s the atomic bomb of marketing — erasing their memory of competitors.

The Psychology of Significance

There’s a lot written about the psychological importance of significance. The gist of it as that for proper mental functioning and self-esteem, people need to feel significant. Insignificance points to worthlessness and inappropriateness. Not the kind of feeling you need to justify decisions and commit further energy and time to something.

Significance seems to provide key signals about the worth of something to a person. It looks like they’re striving for self-esteem, but in reality when we find significance in activities and products, it fulfills our purpose.  It’s a functional thing, where we’re rewarded with good feelings and a sense of mastery — self esteem for achieving our life goals.

If that’s the case, then we want to be significant to our customers, as it makes them commit to us deeply and pay us the money we believe is relevant to achieving our goals.

Relevance and significance remove doubt and competition, and create commitment and decision.

We want prospects and customers to choose us and our offering. At the moment of decision, we are the only provider in mind.  We must master the process of significance-building like an expert and design our SEO and content marketing and sales activities accordingly.

Keys to Relevance and Significance

To make prospects and customers love our brand or service more, our product/service must exude benefits and characteristics that are significant to them.

Below are 33 major points which have significant impact on customers.

Significance and brand loyalty have a close relationship since customers usually stick with and respect brands that represent their key personal preferences and beliefs.

Here’s a full list of significance points. Rate your Product or Service on these factors:

Significance Building Factor Low Medium High Your Notes
 1 makes them feel good and empowered
 2 product/service feels good to use and looks sexy
 3 product appears to be very productive, generating desired benefits
 4 product is high quality and represents good value
 5 product/service price fits what they believe it should cost
 6 product price fits what they believe is the best value and quality
 7 how your offering is packaged looks good and first class
 8 customer doesn’t know your competitor’s reputation or brand value
 9 company’s marketing effort is poor (lack confidence in their offering)
 10 website is attractive and marketing content is high quality, well designed and contemporary
 11 company ranks high on Google (prestige, belief in Google brand)
 12 product lets them spoil themselves leaving them feeling pampered and special
 13 company has the wow factor that gets them excited
 14 product appears to be the market leader (self-esteem for customers)
 15 company allows the customer to establish the relationship they feel comfortable with
 16 product/service performs well against specific, prioritized key performance indicators
 17 helps confirm their views of themselves and their world
 18 solves specific critical benefits on their priority list
 19 product appears to be socially acceptable and valuable to others
 20 their peers or authority figures validate or support your product/service/brand
 21 product/website is highly visible and omnipresent, staying fresh in mind
 22 product/brand is presented in laser like focus and no confusion exists in customers mind
 23 company offers incentives/gifts to edge ahead of competitors offers
 24 brand feels trustworthy and credible
 25 product/service/provider share some sort of historical similarity
 26 product/service appears to be in the customer’s comfort zone and convenience
 27 product/service appears to be strongly associated with important trends
 28 company is good and generous to its customers
 29 it has the right colors, sound, texture, and shape (sensory preferences)
 30 it’s easy for the customer to understand and justify their choice
 31 allows customers to express themselves and promote their own value
 32 is your marketing bold, active, assertive, and lively?
 33 do your storylines include people, locations, technology, brands, activities they can personally relate to and are part of their social history and future ambitions?

How do You Create Such Significance for the Market?

Going back to the relevance marketing post and the military marketing strategy post, we know that we must be comparable to our competitor, that we can do battle with them. And we have to know their weaknesses because they are the only elements we can beat them on.

If customers are going to choose our product/service, we must seize on competitor’s weaknesses and show that our superiority is a relevant and significant benefit for customers. Then we infuse our content (ads, landing pages, social posts, blogs, marketing pages, product spec pages, service package pages, videos, etc.) with words and images that prove each benefit.

Let’s say we’re selling some Fintech AI stock forecasting software, and our major competitors are self-directed and managed investment firms. We have to seize on their weaknesses which might be:

  • lack of artificial intelligence tools and technical forecasting acumen
  • higher account and transaction fees
  • lower forecasting success
  • lack of prediction success on specific stocks that your target customer typically buys
  • lack of self-managed tools to let investors do it themselves without advisors
  • plus extra forecasting analysis on specific stocks they are interested in

Artificial intelligence promises better performance, however proof of advantage and results is tough to come by. One route might be to offer a free trial period where the customer is allowed to choose stocks and enjoy guidance from the AI system (selection of great stocks).

Further significance might come from the AI forecasting tools themselves as they provide estimates on more than just price trends. It might comment on events that changed Bitcoin’s price direction and how earnings reports caused changes.

One big factor in retail stock investing, is getting rid of advisors and transaction fees (middlemen). Retail investors don’t want them — a strong preference. An advisor has a huge disadvantage. And consider Cathie Woods, the much vaunted CEO of ARK investments who has lost 50% of the value of her ETF. That’s reduced her significance profoundly. The media pushes her visibility, but it’s not enough.

Still, it may take much for an AI stock market service to be significant to young investors.

Weave Significance into Your Content

Significance then can be pre-arranged and supported in your content marketing, right from your Google listing to your blog and landing page and social posts. From that point, significance requires deeper personalization — something AI delivery and personalization systems can possibly offer.

On a standard website without compelling content, relevance and significance are difficult to deliver. With intense research and detailed content however, you can help a lot.

Significance requires some advanced thought on how to position your benefits against competitors in a way that draws intense attention to your product/service. If you make an impact on them, they might forget the competition for a short while so you can grab their full attention.

It’s important for sales teams to be able to zero in on the real needs and preferences of the prospect so the benefits and features can be laid out in a relevant way to them. True significance happens when a cluster of coordinated benefits makes prospects feel they’ve got the complete solution from you. If even for a second, he or she is closing the sale, creating an emotion that makes them commit. They’re committing to their intent to acquire a solution.

If you lose the sale, it means you didn’t capture their intent and make it happen.

Significance Through Content Marketing

Content marketing can help you appear and communicate superiority for each customer touchpoint and buyer decision point.

In fact, since most product/service discovery is digital and engagement via your website is digital, it’s the natural way for customers to experience your UVP’s significance.

Is significant content different than your other high performing content? Significant content is more in the mid funnel range where the differentiation process happens. You’ve built interest in your awareness campaign (SEO, social posts) and now you must focus their interest and amplify their desire for your solution.

At this point the content must:

⦁ separate your offering from others
⦁ utilize a flanking strategy where you create a new niche the leaders don’t own
⦁ allows you to exploit competitor’s weakness and expand upon them
⦁ allows to really drill down on critical user benefits
⦁ allow you establish greater personal relevance with the prospect
⦁ allow you to build more emotion with respect to your key advantages

So significant content helps you work on the prospects mind to shape their decision process to match your UVP and key features/benefits.

Best Content Types that Convey Significance Best

Your marketing KPIs can measure significance scores too along with performance numbers. And to do that you’ll need to discover the content types that best create significance.

The Content Marketing Institute speaks of the content customers crave. Here are the types of content that marketers produce to achieve their goals:

Top produced digital content.
Content Most Relied on. Screenshot courtesy of The Content Marketing Institute.

The best content must be able to differentiate your offering from competitors. It must be very targeted to the prospects industry, segment, and preferences. If your content funnel has passed through relevant prospects, this phase can produce results.

  • Whitepapers and Cases Studies. An excellent degree of differentiation often is built in whitepapers and business case studies. You may use them and feel they are conversion devices, but in reality, they build significance — that your solution is highly relevant to their specific industry needs and usage profile.
  • Videos:  with conversations and key points related to the visitor’s specific sector are worthy.
  • In depth blog posts: using specific research data, conversations, and comparison charts with points relevant to the prospect’s specific business sector and direct competitors. Anything about their direct competitors will draw interest.
  • Social media posts and ads: specific engaging content using real people/events/cases to provide instant validation and emotional significance.
  • Marketing pages, email and blogs: specific content designed to skew customer preference by redefining the service/product market, thus tilting the battlefield to your favor. See the post on military marketing strategy for more insight.
  • Webinars: citing specific common issues and industry needs can draw specific prospects, which is why webinars are considered high converting content.
  • Phone calls or video conference calls:  the most obvious because it’s interactive and you can drill down to get to know their background, needs, and preferences. Video brings a more detailed note on pain points/needs and creating a personal bond, where an in-person meeting might be the next step. Phone calls are less committed but are more spontaneous and responsive to allow you to focus more their emotional needs and big picture issues. Phone calls are “now” while the issue is fresh in their minds. Nothing is better than now, to help you connect to the core emotional reasons of their need, and make yourself significant to them and getting launched into the solution. Phone calls are the best choice and lead to the next step the prospect is comfortable with. That gives you time to conduct more research and deliver some things you promised during the phone call.

Significance marketing is no joke. It is the most powerful route to connecting to prospects minds and creating maximum engagement. It rids the prospect’s mind of competitors and gives you the inside track on proving your premium significance to their business.

When you’re creating significance, don’t hinge on a personal friendship even you’re building that. They’re still a stranger, ultimately interested in solving a specific business need. Their final thought is what you can accomplish specifically for them — a personalized, significant, unique value proposition which they trust is authentic and leads to success.

Once you’re explored your value proposition and refined all points of significance, build them into your content, and use advanced search engine optimization to get them in front of more prospects.

See more on branding, Advanced SEO services, and creating content that excites.

 

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